Tuesday, August 22, 2006


How to keep your brakes from letting you down

Think of your car's brake system as an extension of your body. If you push on the pedal and the car doesn't respond as you expect it to, you may be in trouble. When your brakes feel good you'll feel better about driving. There are no short cuts on brake work. Invest in the best service you can get.

Why Do You Need The Brake System Flushed?
There is an increasing awareness of the dangers of water and corrosion producing contaminates. Brake fluid contaminated by moisture lowers the boiling point of the fluid to the point that, even under ordinary conditions, your brakes could get hot enough to cause the brake fluid to boil causing vapor to form in the brake system. The vapor is compressible, causing a low or no brake pedal. Moisture gets into the fluid because conventional brake fluid is hygroscopic (it has a magnetic attraction for moisture, which it absorbs from the atmosphere). In your vehicle, moisture is absorbed through the brake master cylinder reservoir and permeable brake hoses. As a result of this, the moisture along the steel line, rubber hoses, cast iron, aluminum and brake fluid, temperatures can reach 400 to 500 degrees. This causes an electrochemical reaction that makes the brake fluid so acidic that it can result in early failure of brake components and putting you in danger. Brake fluid contamination has become so much a concern of the major car manufacturers, that they have added it to their required maintenance. Failure to change your vehicle's brake fluid can result in very costly repairs. If you have a vehicle with ABS-type brakes, component failure can run into the thousands.

Your brake fluid should be flushed every 30,000 miles or every 2 years. Just adding new fluid is not sufficient enough, the system needs to be properly flushed to rid the system from contaminants and moisture.

Brake Failure Symptoms:
  • Noises: Your brake system may be crying for help if you're hearing strange noises when you depress the brake. Two of the most common are squeaks or grinding.
  • Squeaks: Friction from the brake lining causes heat. Under extreme conditions this can damage the pads and/or lining, brake drums and rotors.
  • Grinding: A metallic grinding sound indicates your brake pads are worn through. Metal-to-metal contact will damage drums or rotors.
  • Low or Fading brake pedal: Do your brakes require pumping to stop the car? Does the pedal sink to the floor board when you're stopped at a light? There may be a leak in the brake system, air in the brake lines, or the need for a brake adjustment.
  • Pulling to on side or brake drag: Worn or uneven brake linings or a damaged brake line can cause your vehicle to pull to one side. Brakes that are out of adjustment or have contaminated fluid can cause brakes to drag.

Inspecting your Brakes:
  • Master Cylinder: The master cylinder, heart of the brake system, contains a reservoir for brake fluid. It is located on the firewall and should be checked periodically to ensure the proper fluid level.
  • Brake Lines: Attached to the master cylinder, steel brake tubing runs to all four wheels. Brake lines should be inspected for rust, which can lead to leaks. If the lines are damaged they should be replaced.
  • Brake Hoses: Rubber brake hoses run from the brake lines to the brake calipers and wheel cylinders. Constant exposure to road grime, dirt, salt and other elements can cause the rubber to become brittle and crack, leading to brake failure.
  • Linings and Pads: The pads and brake shoe linings should be checked per4iodically for uneven or excess wear, glazing, or saturation from brake fluid or grease.
  • Calipers and Wheel Cylinders: Brakes are activated by brake fluid pressure from the master cylinder pushing a piston located in the caliper or wheel cylinder against the pad or shoe. A leak can cause erratic braking or brake failure.
  • Bearings and Seals: Wheel bearings should be inspected and lubricated periodically. Worn wheel bearings, which can cause faulty steering as well as erratic braking, should be replaces.
  • Parking Brake: The parking brake should be adjusted periodically.

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